For me, setting the alarm to get up at 7am on a weekend is only reserved for a select few things - a flight, a tee time, and watching the British Open. I love Major weeks. As boring as a typical PGA event is in Milwaukee or Greensboro, there is nothing better than the four Majors. It's when great golfers prove their greatness, and up and comers get to etch their name in record books and on trophies.
But right now, winning a major doesn't mean you're great. It just means you're not as bad as everyone else. Since Thanksgiving '09 (the end of the Tiger Woods era), we've seen some great major performances that deserve to be lauded. Louis Oosthuizen's win at St. Andrew's was shockingly dominant. Charl Schwartzel's birdie string to end the Masters was gutsy and clutch. Rory McIlroy's win at the Congressional was transcendent. But the great memorable performances have become overshadowed by the memorable collapses.
While Darren Clarke's win at St. Georges means something to some people across the golf world, it means little to me. What matters to me is how much his competitors fell apart down the stretch. Lucas Glover was nowhere to be found Sunday. Thomas Bjorn could not close out his revenge over the course that burned him in 2003. And Dustin Johnson continues to be the guy who could challenge Jack Nicklaus's major title record, if majors ended on Saturday.
And Phil was Phil. Magic for 9 of the 72 holes over the course of a week, but not able to make the important shots down the stretch. He may never pass Greg Norman as the greatest golfer with the most disappointing majors resume, but he'll finish close.
And these are the guys who actually played well. Guys like Ian Poulter, Ernie Els, Nick Watney, Luke Donald, and Graeme McDonald didn't even make the cut.
Clarke never felt any pressure on his final nine holes. These other guys just handed over the Claret Jug without a fight.
We deserve to see greatness in Majors. Tiger Woods gave us that almost every time out. I believe that one day McIlroy will get there. But the fact that he did not play professionally between the U.S. Open and the Open Championship shows that he's not quite ready to dedicate himself to being the greatest of the post-Tiger Woods era.
Tiger has left a gaping hole in the sport, one that it seems no one can come even close to filling. And that's a major problem.